With a high percentage of vulnerable tenants in social housing, landlords must pay attention to carbon monoxide (CO) safety and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place. This doesn’t need to be costly or complicated and there are many easy ways landlords can protect tenants and cover themselves. Adrian Keats, at Honeywell’s Home Safety business, explains more.
Protecting a home from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning might seem daunting at first, but it really doesn’t have to be difficult. As well as taking preventative measures such as ensuring gas appliances are regularly serviced, landlords should ensure that a series of well-sited, functioning alarms are situated throughout the home, so that tenants have plenty of warning should there be a leak.
The importance of an audible CO alarm can never be understated. Unlike fire and smoke, there is no way of visually telling that a CO leak has occurred, and because the symptoms are very similar to that of a cold, the tenant might not realise anything is wrong until it is too late.
Recent statistics show just how terrifying the results of this can be. Awareness campaign group Project SHOUT found that CO cases in children went up last year, with more than 500 cases reported despite ongoing awareness work. In total 50 deaths were attributed to CO poisoning over the course of the year.
For this reason, it is important that landlords not only invest in the right CO alarms, but also site them in the right place. CO alarms are relatively inexpensive to buy and are easy to position within the home. If landlords select a sealed unit, they can be sure it will remain working, subject to regular checks, for a period of up to 10 years.
To give the best warning, a CO alarm should ideally be positioned high up on a wall, typically 30 centimetres from the ceiling, and at least one metre away from boilers, fires, cookers or heaters. It can be free-standing on a shelf, as long as the recommended positioning requirements are met
Bear in mind that the location could be different for a gas-fired appliance and a wood burning stove. The nature of a solid-fuel stove means that the doors will be opened intermittently in order to add further fuel, which means occasional bursts of CO will enter the room, potentially triggering the alarm if it is sited too close to the appliance. Therefore, for some of these installations it may be more appropriate to site the CO alarm on the opposite wall to where the appliance is located in the room.
Siting an alarm in this way can give homeowners much more time to react, and ensure that the alarm is always positioned in a place in which it can react to the danger.
Currently landlords are required to only install a CO alarm when fitting a solid fuel burning appliance, but this is the bare minimum to ensure tenant safety. Many incidents of CO poisoning are the result of badly maintained or faulty gas appliances, which are not specifically addressed by the legislation.
In light of this, it's best to recommend a CO alarm in every room housing a fuel burning appliance, and for proper protection, an alarm in any bedroom above these, too.
With individuals in social housing often vulnerable, it’s important to ensure they are protected against dangers in the home. CO poisoning can be deadly, yet it is relatively easy to avoid by ensuring correctly sited alarms are present within the home
By making an investment in this safeguard now, landlords can protect tenants from the dangers of CO poisoning and ensure they are covered in the case of a leak.